Julia Martin holds a stout bass. Photo courtesy of Mark Johnson resize

Update:  Since posting this a reader on Facebook was able to get us two better images of Julia.  We changed out the Feature Image with one of them and the other one is posted below.  Thank you Mark Johnson!

In today’s Friday Finale, another look back at one of the anglers from the professional women’s trails.  But first, I have to set the story up.  When I first stumbled across the obituary, my jaw dropped after reading it.  I had to read it a couple more times, as the accomplishments were so numerous, and the space allotted to focusing on her fishing life in the rather lengthy tribute surprising.  It was the kind of focus given to someone whose true passion for fishing was an integral part of their lives.  But I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t recognize her name – Julia Ann Woody Martin.

Searches initially pulled up nothing, so I tried various name variations.  After a few unsuccessful attempts, I found the right combination: Julie Martin.  Suddenly I found numerous reports and stories about Julie’s fishing success, as she was regularly mentioned in the local newspapers.

Julia Martin hoists two at weigh-in. Photo courtesy of Mark Johnson.
Julia Ann Martin was one of the toughest bass anglers on the ladies' trails and left a big impression on the sport.

Early on, it was of the many wins, titles, and high finishes in tournaments as a team with her then husband, Bob Martin.  The stories later focused on her efforts fishing the various women’s professional trails across the years.

From what I found, she qualified for at least six Lady Bass finals, along with five Bass’N Gal championships, and one Women’s Bass Fishing Association final.  She even placed in the U.S. Open, one of only three women to enter among the 272 contestants, finishing 40th in 1983.

Moving to 1998, a news article in The Springfield News Leader titled, “Martin will give nationals a final try,” she stated, “This is my last one. I’m not going to try to qualify for any more championships…I’m tired of traveling and pulling the boat all over the United States.”

She had also recently retired from her speech pathologist position.  “I’ll fish occasional tournaments, but I don’t plan on following any specific tournament trail.”

Through all those papers and stories, there was just a single portrait like photo from a local 1983 article (the newspaper image).  No weigh-in shots, or bass boat pics, or big bass being held up.  Yet, with her story and accomplishments so compelling, I felt I had to share it with readers of the site, and her obituary covers those accomplishments better than I could, so I’ll leave you with that.

Julia Ann Woody Martin, 72, of Springfield, passed away on June 1, 2018.

Martin began tournament fishing in 1972 and became one of the state’s most successful women on the water. In 1976, she was the only woman to compete in the National Bass Casters Association (BCA) Pro-Am circuit, finishing fifth overall in the amateur division, and caught the largest bass of the tournament.

In 1978, she and Francis Knox co-founded Missouri’s first women’s bass club. Martin went on to fish professionally in Bass N’ Gals, Lady Bass and the Women’s Bass Fishing Association (WBFA). Over 22 years, Martin qualified for each organization’s national Classic 20 times and finished 15th or better in each.

Martin became the most successful women’s angler in any open competition when, in 1983, she finished 40th out of 287 anglers in the U.S. Open tournament at Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Martin, who paid a $1,500 entry fee, elected to compete as a “non-boater” – meaning she shared a boat with other competitors – and was one of only three women in the tournament.

From 1984 through 1986, Martin fished several Missouri-based Redman Tournaments. She also won the 1989 Kentucky Invitational on Kentucky Lake with 21 bass weighing 50 pounds and a 5.09 lunker, and she finished second in the Angler of the Year standings.

She also was the Angler of the Year four of seven years in the Ozarks Anglerettes as well as Angler of the Year of the Ozark Mountain Bass N’ Gals in 1988 and 1989. In recent years, she has led the Julie Martin Fishing Event through Life’s Journey, which raises scholarship dollars for children of military veterans, law enforcement and firefighters.

When asked about the secret to her success, Martin laughed like a true angler – one who can tell fishing stories with the best of them.

“When I would fish, I’d have my finger on the line as soon as the bait hit the water. Sometimes, I could feel when a fish was just looking at my lure,” Martin said.

Martin got her start in fishing by traveling with her grandfather and dad to local rivers and lakes. Her career then took off after she married Bob Martin, who was part of the early years of B.A.S.S. They fished in pro-ams. Soon, the women’s bass club was formed, and Martin went on to enjoy tons of success.

Along the way, women would approach Martin and express appreciation for her unintended role as a trailblazer.

“Many felt like they could compete, that it wasn’t just a man’s sport,” Martin said. “I hope I helped them realize that they could compete.”